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Bangladesh

Bangladesh, known as "East Pakistan" until its 1971 independence from Pakistan, is country of resilient people abounding with life and color.  The territory that is now Bangladesh was created during the partition of much of South Asia into new nations following independence from Great Britain in 1947.  Bangladesh was vacated by many Bengali Hindus in the process, but also became a site for voluntary and forced resettlement of Bengali Muslims.  Bangladesh is now the most densely populated nation in the world, and about 90% of the population is Muslim.

The combined flood plains of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers cover nearly the entire country of Bangladesh in an area of shifting silt not far above sea level.  Summer monsoon rains regularly flood the rivers and tropical storms can bring salt water levels up over much of the land as well, both of which damage infrastructure, particularly roads and electrical lines.  In addition to wiping away public improvements, these waters can damage rural farmers' homes, fields, and possessions, forcing many to choose between repeated rebuilding and seeking after low-wage jobs in the cities or by emigrating to the Middle East then sending money home.

Mennonite Central Committee Bangladesh directly employs many local workers in addition to funding partnerships with local organizations. MCC also purchases much of its material aid to Bangladesh in the country, rather than shipping from North America in order to promote local industries and ensure that the materials are culturally appropriate.  MCC frequently responds to disasters and shortages with work on housing construction, disaster preparedness, and clean water projects.

In addition to Global Family support and other education programs, much of MCC Bangladesh's programming focuses on job creation through marketing handicrafts, many of which are made by women who are single-handedly providing for their families.  MCC also promotes HIV/AIDS awareness among many different groups in Bangladesh.  An emphasis of MCC's development work in Bangladesh is finding solutions that involve appropriate tagricultural echnology, which Bangladeshis can maintain themselves in the current market and infrastructure conditions in the country.